Luton shop owner punished for refusing to stop selling illicit tobacco

Judge warns him he has avoided potential prison term due to previous good character

Monday, 17th May 2021, 11:57 am

A Luton business owner has been prosecuted following his refusal to stop selling illicit tobacco in his shop, despite previous warnings from Trading Standards.

Mehmood Hussain of Alder Crescent, Luton, appeared before District Judge Leigh-Smith at Luton Magistrates Court after continuing to sell the tobacco from Clifton Foods in Dallow Road.

Knowing full well that he would be appearing in court for the sale of illicit tobacco, Mr Hussain was found to still be selling the tobacco on two further separate occasions.

The tobacco

Mr Hussain was sentenced to carry out a 12 month Community Order with 80 hours of unpaid work concurrent for offences committed on September 25, 2019; a further 80 hours for the offence committed on October 21, 2019 consecutive, and 100 hours for offences on November 5, 2019, totalling 260 hours of unpaid work. A surcharge of £85 and costs of £3,660 were awarded with 18 months to pay.

The judge at the hearing on April 29 demanded to know that Mr Hussain would not let this happen again with a warning that "If it was not for the fact previous, former good character I would be considering prison today".

Luton Trading Standards is investigating and gathering information on the sale of illicit tobacco across Luton.

Cllr Jacqui Burnett, portfolio holder for public protection, said: “Not only are illicit tobacco sales a form of tax evasion and unfair to honest traders, illicit tobacco is more dangerous than regulated tobacco. Ingredients are unregulated and cigarettes do not extinguish in the same way as regulated products, increasing the risk of house fires. The cheaper price also may encourage people to start or continue to smoke. The sale of illicit tobacco also is often linked to other wider organised criminal activity.”

Landlords, whose tenants are engaged in the sale of illicit tobacco will also be advised and investigated by trading standards in relation to proceeds of crime, where sales continue in a bid to crack down and improve standards of trading within Luton. Businesses can also face closure.

Anyone with information on premises and individuals selling and storing illicit tobacco in Luton can report in confidence here